Patricia Oakley, an avid gardener, environmentalist and knitter has returned to Goshen College as an adjunct mathematics professor.From 1998 t0 2013, Oakley was a vital part of the Goshen College mathematics department. In addition to teaching the three-course Calculus sequence, Abstract Algebra and Linear Algebra, Oakley consistently made connections between mathematics and the arts.
In the spring of 2013, Oakley resigned in order to pursue some of her passions: sustainability, education and small-scale farming.
During the past year, Oakley worked at Clay Bottom Farm, an “artisan farm” in Goshen. On their website, Clay Bottom Farm highlights that they are “young people dedicated to sustainable agriculture and to providing customers high quality local fruits and vegetables.” The farm serves Goshen, Elkhart, Middlebury, Warsaw and South Bend, and is run by two Goshen College graduates, Ben Hartman and Rachel Hershberger.
Clay Bottom Farm is also actively involved in food sustainability initiatives taken around the Goshen area, working with businesses such as Venturi and the Goshen Farmers Market.
“One of my responsibilities this year is managing [Clay Bottom Farm’s] booth at the Goshen Farmer’s Market,” said Oakley.
Now, Oakley splits her time between Goshen College and Clay Bottom Farm.
“I knew that the winter is slower for farming (even though they have greenhouses and do grow vegetables over the winter) and I expected that I would have extra time. The math department needed to hire some adjuncts to cover the courses offered this spring and I decided that I would have the time to do one course,” said Oakley.
Even though she’s back to teaching, Oakley has big plans to continue her own personal garden. “Last fall, we put up a little tiny greenhouse which I hope to use this spring for starting seeds and growing greens,” said Oakley.
Oakley attended Wheaton College, double-majoring in math and physics, moving onto Northwestern University, where she eventually graduated with a Ph.D. in low frequency sound wave propagation. Before teaching at Goshen, Oakley was a professor at Seattle Pacific University.
Oakley has always enjoyed interacting and collaborating with others, especially her students.
“I am glad to interact with the people (both faculty and students) at GC. I’ve always enjoyed teaching,” said Oakley.
Often, Oakley incorporates her passions with her lessons—such as using knitting to demonstrate complicated concepts or figures.
Overall, Oakley is glad to be back on Goshen College’s campus teaching one of her favorite courses, Abstract Algebra.